Skip to main content

Full text of "The existence of God"

See other formats

KsmMBtiafiknit^ : 



$B 565 =l=ia 



University of California. 



Edited by Kev. FEANCIS AVELING, D.D. 



Right Rev. Mgr. CANON MOYES, D.D. 


B. HERDER, 17 South Broadway 


-^— ^ ^ ^ 


In the list of lectures delivered at Westminster 
Cathedral Hall, the first had for its subject the 
*' Proofs for the Existence of God." 

To deal exhaustively with the proofs as a 
whole would have required not a lecture but a 
treatise. What the reader will find in the pages 
that follow is not an attempt to treat the subject 
fully or technically, but an effort to indicate in a 
broad and general way, the lines on which it is 
thought that the proofs of God's existence may be 
conveniently stated. 

It is a need of our rational nature to interro- 
gate the things which we see, and to ask the 
reason of their existence. And if this is true 
with regard to any single phenomenon, or group 
of phenomena, it must be emphatically more so 
when we are face to face with the Universe as a 
whole. Hence the great question as to the 
origin and destiny of the Universe — the whence, 
the why, and the whither — is inextinguishable 




in the human mind. Man from the earliest 
times when he looked out with intelligent eyes 
upon the world, has never ceased to ask it. In 
the history of human thought, especially in its 
higher levels, as in the Greek civilisation, the 
best and ablest intellects of the race have been 
turned towards its solution. The acquired results 
of their labours have been happily handed down 
to us in the great schools of Scholastic philosophy, 
in which we have what has been aptly described 
as **the main line of European thought."^ On 
the great question just alluded to, there is nothing 
in the ** by-path " philosophies which is ever 
likely to invalidate their conclusions. The great 
work of St Thomas and the Schoolmen was not 
by any process of thought-spinning to originate 
a new philosophy, but rather to gather up into a 
formulated system all that was best and soundest 
in the Greek and Arabian schools which inter- 
preted the thought of the ancient civilisations. 
Scholastic philosophy is thus much more a 
channel than a source. We esteem it, not merely 
because it is Thomistic or Scholastic, but because 
the great natural verities which it presents to us 
in terms of precision are the common property of 

1 Professor Caldecott of King^s College, and H. R. 
M'Intosh, M.A., Selections from the Literature of Theism^ 
p. ID. 


mankind from the simple fact that they are the 
thought-out conclusions from the common sense 
of mankind, at work from the beginning upon 
the great problems of our origin and destiny. 
We prize it, because it comes as the heir of the 
ages, and represents the acquired results of the 
highest and clearest thinking in the life and 
history of the race. Metaphysical research has 
ever been its chief and absorbing aim, and its 
soundness therein remains untouched by the fact 
that in the physical domain, in which inductions 
upon ever- widening areas of facts must necessarily 
make their progressive report, many of its con- 
clusions have been naturally long since evacuated. 
For this reason, most of the arguments set forth 
in the following pages have proceeded sub- 
stantially on the traditional lines of the Scholastic 
philosophy, and to it, rather than to the somewhat 
free and feeble handling of those arguments by 
the writer, is due whatever worth or cogency they 
may be found to possess. 

J. Moves. 

Note, — The few questions that were put to the lecturer 
on the occasion of the deUvery of the lecture at London, 
Aberdeen, and Edinburgh have been dealt with in the text, 
and consequently are not included in an appendix. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 


'' I CANNOT see God. But I see that He must 
exist ; for if He did not, I could not see anything. 
There would not be anything for me to see, and 
I should not be here with eyes to see it." That 
would represent roughly the argument which 
arises in the mind of men as they gaze upon the 
world around them. It is built upon a conviction 
that the world and men have been made — that 
they did not make themselves — and that they 
have need of a God to have made them. But 
why should there be any such need ? Why 
should the universe need to have been made at 
all ? Might it not have existed always and from 
ever, with man (or his elements to be developed 
later on) as a part of it ? Might it not exist of 
itself by its own forces and laws, without need of 
anything either to create or to sustain it ? 

The answer to this question is to be found 
in the proofs of the existence of God ; and a 
statement of these, in very rough outline, is 
attempted in the following pages. 



The proofs of God s existence are various 
and manifold. They are differently appreciated 
by different people, according to their mental 
taste or aptitude. A proof which is felt to be 
all that is clear and conclusive to some, may seem 
to be vague and unsatisfactory to others. For 
that reason it is well to consider here a number 
of proofs, leaving each mind to assimilate most 
the one which most appeals to it. No doubt, 
the considerations which make for the existence 
of God are innumerable, but the main proofs as 
traditionally handed down to us by those who 
have thought much upon the subject are com- 
paratively few. 

I. — Argument from Motion. 

The first is drawn from the fact of Motion. 
Here we are at once face to face with a fact of 
cosmic magnitude. There is nothing which 
enters so much into the whole structure of the 
universe and is found so much everywhere and 
in everything, as Motion. On this point Science 
bears eloquent witness. Nature is truly de- 
scribed as an inexhaustible storehouse of 
wonders. Science — which is but another word 
for man discovering the laws and secrets of 
Nature — stands with the telescope in one hand 


and the microscope in the other. The one 
turned upwards to scan the immeasurably great, 
reveals to us worlds upon worlds executing their 
marvellous dance in the realms of boundless 
space, and moving with unthinkable speed along 
paths so vast that their distance can only be 
counted by the years which a ray of their light 
would take to reach us. The other turned 
downwards to scrutinise the immeasurably small, 
reveals worlds within worlds of organic structures 
living and moving within a compass so small that 
thousands of them might be lost within the area 
of a pin-head. But all of them, great and small, 
from the remotest star to the tiniest microbe, are 
in motion, and fulfilling their part in the universal 
law of movement. Or, to look at the same truth 
from another point of view, motion is of all things 
in Nature the one which is most tellingly 
brought home to our senses. For in- ^^!f??^^ 

^ ^ of Motion 

stance, I raise my eyes to the sun 
shining at noonday, and my sight is filled and 
flooded with the dazzling brilliance of the sun- 
light. Have I seen it ? Nothing so clearly. 
Science tells me that the light which I have 
seen is motion. I take my stand at the side 
of a mighty piece of ordnance — the 100- ton gun 
— while the shot is being fired, and my ears 
are, as it were, riven with the deafening report 


which seemed to rip and rend the very atmos- 
phere. Have I heard it ? Nothing so plainly. 
Science tells me that the sound which I have 
heard is motion. I draw near to a heated fur- 
nace, and I put my hand into the flame until 
the pain is maddening. Have I felt it ? Nothing 
so keenly. Science tells me that the heat which 
I felt is motion. Light, heat, sound, are but 
terms of motion, and these are the most palpably 
evident things in Nature. 

So far, we are still in the outer and lower 
court of the world's wonders. The crowning 
phenomenon of the whole universe is Thought in 
the mind of man. As a marvel and mystery of 
power, both in the inscrutable subtlety of its process 
and in the far-reaching sweep of its operation 
and results, there is nothing in all the rest of the 
universe which can be compared to it. The 
wonders of the world outside of us are not nearly 
so great as the wonder which is inside of us. 
The works of Nature in the stars above us, and 
in the earth beneath us, and in the air around us, 
are immeasurably surpassed and transcended by 
the work which is wrought within the mind of 
every man whenever he uses his intelligence to 
think, or to know, or understand. But this use 
of the faculty means motion — not indeed in the 
sense of local motion, but motion really and 


essentially in the sense of the exercise of a function, 
and the movement of powers into activity. From 
the farthest planet to the inmost recesses of our 
being, motion is everywhere. 

What has our reason to say when it reads the 
open page of Nature, and beholds the universe 
vibrating and pulsating from end to end and 
from age to age with this ubiquitous law of 
motion ? 

It says with all possible plainness that where 
all is^in motion, there must be a Prime-mover. 
That Prime-mover is what we call God. 

The more we think of it the more we shall 
realise the necessity of the Prime-mover. And 
the more we shall feel that the absence of one is 

We can see that motion by its very essence 

must mean a procession or transition* It is not 

merely dynamic. It may be from place to place, 

or it may be from one state or condition to 

another. But it is from somewhere to somewhere, 

or from something to something. It is this 

which is the very condition of all progress and 

evolution. Nothing can ever move without 

^ That the Prime-mover must itself be unmoved, is 
obvious. If it were moved, it would postulate another 
being to move it, and it would not be the Prime-mover. 
An endless succession of movers and moved is unthinkable 
as existing in reality. 


moving in some direction. We may think of that 
direction as a line, or we may think of it as a 
succession of states. When we turn to find its 
beginning, mentally, the line or succession might 
be extended indefinitely backwards. But in the 
real world there is no such thing as indefinite or 
illimitable extension. Nothing can ever 

Initial Point ^^^^P^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^ Constitution ; and 

in all even as the part has its measure, so the 

Succession ^j^qJ^ must have its measure, however 

or Series 

great it may be and beyond our reckon- 
ing. Hence the line must have an initial point, 
however far back we must go to find it. And 
the evolution must have a primary stage, how- 
ever remote in the world's history that stage 
may be. In other words, there must have been 
a point at which, or a source from which, the 
world-motion was started, and there must there- 
fore have been a Prime-mover to impart the 
movement and to conduct its evolution. 

This power which is behind all nature is God. 
As Prime-mover, He is the source by which all 
the manifold movement of nature is fed and 
sustained — and, as the Unmoved, He is the 
Constant which gives reason to all change, and 
the Eternal which gives reason to all time and 
succession. It is in Him that *'we live, and 
move, and have our being." 


1 1 . — A rgument from Causality, 

A second proof is found in the nature of 

In the universe we have a vast multitude of 
phenomena. It is quite clear that these are not 
isolated from, or independent of, one another. On 
the contrary, they are so connected that one 
brings about another, or makes it to be. This 
connection is called causation, and the thing 
which makes something else to be is called a 
cause, and the thing which is made to be is called 
an effect. If we ask why should things 
be thus connected, the answer is that Nature the 
they are so because there exists an Basis of 
underlying unity in the phenomena. ^"^ ^^ 
Just as in mathematics or geometry, the ex- 
planation why one truth should be the reason 
of another truth is to be found in the intrinsic 
unity of all truth, so the explanation why one 
thing in this world should cause another to be, is 
a certain unity which binds together all nature. 
Effects flow from causes, and conclusions flow 
from principles or premisses, because each has 
unity as a basis to go upon. We may also note 
that there is not only unity, but — as we have 
seen in the motion proof — there is direction. 
Effects are found to proceed from causes, or con- 


elusions from premisses, but not inversely ; the 
causes do not come out of the effects, nor do the 
premisses come out of the conclusion. That 
means that in the unity there is order or proces- 
sion, whether in things logical or ontological. 
Moreover, this order or procession is real ; 
that is to say, it is due not merely to our minds 
or to any mental categories, but it exists in the 
nature of truth, and is the nature of the universe. 
A given degree of heat causes a rock to melt. 
Here is cause and effect, and with them there is 
also a fixed order or direction. It is the heat 
which causes the melting, and not the melting 
which causes the heat. Both the connection and 
the order or direction are real. The heat would 
have melted the rocks — in point of fact, it did so 
— even if no man were on the face of the earth to 
witness it, or no human mind were there to know 
it. Hence the relation between the 
an heat and the melting could not be 
Inadequate adequately expressed as mere sequence. 

Explanation y^ u i <ui, *. 

For sequence would only mean that 
the one followed the other, and one might argue 
that the following was merely a matter of 
then and after, or a matter of time, and conse- 
quently something subjective or depending on the 
standpoint of the observer. The relation, based 
as it is on the real unity of nature, is obviously 


real ; and the one really and naturally not only 
precedes the other, but brings about the other, 
and would do so if no human mind had ever 
existed. We may see this more clearly in a rather 
crude example. An express train has passed me 
at full speed, and I ask myself why do the 
carriages move along the line. Evidently the 
movement of the carriages is due to the movement 
of the locomotive, which in turn is due to the 
pressure of the steam, and so on, till we might 
pass along a line of ulterior causes. But if any- 
one told me that the explanation was to be found 
in sequence, it is clear that his explanation would 
not explain. For sequence means ** following " ; 
and to tell me that the carriages moved along the 
line because they followed the engine, or because 
the moving of the engine first takes place, and 
the movement of the carriages afterwards, is to 
tell me nothing, seeing that it is why they move 
or followed the engine is just what I want to know. 
If, on the other hand, my attention is drawn to 
the couplings, and I am shown that the cohesion 
is such that the movement of the engine causes a 
conveyance of energy and the movement of 
the carriages, I am at once put upon the true 
line of the solution. But the couplings and 
cohesion are real, and not subjective, and the 
relation between the movement of the engine and 


that of the carriages is effective ; or in other words 
it is not mere sequence, but causation based upoi 
an actual transference of energy or force. 

It is exactly this real connection of phenomen^ 
which forms the foundation of all scientific kno\ 
ledge and achievement. True Science is essentiallj| 
the knowledge of things through their causes 
Any one standing by a water-mill may observ^ 
the fact that the wheel turns round, and the fac 
that the water falls upon the wheel, and the fac 
that the water flows through the mill-race. Eves 
a brute might see or observe such facts. But the 
man, and especially the man of science, by the 
law of his reason goes farther, and asks the reason 
why. He sees the cause of the rotation of the 
wheel in the weight-pressure of the flowing and 
falling water, and the cause of the flow and fall of 
the water in the law of gravity, and its liquid 
nature, and he will pursue his research of causes 
if need be into its chemical composition. But 
throughout he is building on the principle of 
causation and the real connection of cause and 
effect, and every induction which he makes from 
his observed facts assumes the unity or uni- 
^. .. formity of nature by which the same 

Direction ^ ^ ^ 

as well as causes in the same circumstances will 

^^^ produce the same effects. We may 

note that the mere unity of nature in itself is not 


enough for his purpose. He must count upon a 
certain fixed order or direction existing in the 
phenomena, by which some produce others and 
are not produced by them. Without this prin- 
ciple of real connection and direction which we 
call causation, the whole work of science would 
come to a standstill, and all its achievements in 
the past would be reduced to guess-work. If 
causation be the explanatory principle of Nature, 
it must also be the effective principle of Nature ; 
for the way in which things are known must ever 
at root be the way in which things themselves are 
made or done. The mind understands a thing in 
its cause because in the cause it, so to speak, wit- 
nesses the doing or the making of it. The logical 
and the ontological are but two ways of walking 
the same road, although the doing begins from 
one end and the knowing begins from the other, 
as the cause acts downwards to effect, while the 
mind investigates upwards from the effect to the 
cause. This very connection of phenomena which 
we have termed direction — the procession of effect 
from cause — is in itself a finger-post embedded in 
the very nature of things, pointing back to the 
source from which all things have proceeded. 
And here we reach the gist of our argument. 

If the universe lies before us as a vast multi- 
tude of phenomena — if this multitude be not a 




chaos, but a world held together by a marvellous _ 
law of unity, and at the same time marked by a | 
not less marvellous law of direction or procession, 
as seen in the uniform but manifold concatena- 
tion of causes and effects (the origin no doubt of 
variety) ; — if we have as a result all that splendour 
of order which means classification in place and 
evolution in time, then at the root of all this unity 
and causation there must be One Cause, in which 
the unity finds its source, and from which the 
causation derives its original impulse and energy. 
That is only to say that when we have in the 
universe a vast chain of causes and effects, and 
when we travel up from cause to cause, and then 
again to an ulterior cause, the series existing as it 
does in reality cannot be indefinite, and we must 
eventually reach the First Cause, which is God. 
In doing so our minds are only logically or by 
knowledge travelling up the chain by which the 
Final Cause ontologically or by creation, so to 
speak, worked down. However long the chain, 
there must be an initial link, and above all there 
must be a Linker ; or the chain had never been 
woven, nor its links put together in the admirable 
order in which we find them. 

We have seen that the connection between 
phenomena is effective. It is not merely that one 
succeeds the other, but the one brings about the 


other. That means that there must be a trans- 
ference of energy, or a transformation, or at least 
a transition of energy, in the succession. Some- 
thing must pass from one to another or from one 
in the other, or there would be no trans in the 
matter. Hence causation is necessarily a giving, 
and a cause is essentially a giver ; and an effect is 
what is, and has what it has, just because it has 
received it from the cause. The molten rock 
equals all that caused the composition of the rock 
plus the heat which melted it. Hence 
the old scholastic axiom, which says 9^"^ation 

/IS giving 

that there is nothing in an effect which 
first of all did not exist (and in a higher manner) 
in its cause. That is only another way of 
saying that no one can give what it has not. 
If, then, the principle of causation teaches us 
that there is a First Cause from which pro- 
ceeded all the effects which we see in the uni- 
verse, and which is simply a series of givings, 
it teaches us also that there can be found in the 
universe nothing of being, viz., nothing real or 
good, which is not to be found first of all and 
most of all in the First Cause from which all 
originated. Hence if we find here amongst us such 
things as goodness, life, love, intelligence, the 
First Cause must be one which has all these 
attributes, and in the highest way, and is there- 


fore not only God, but a good, living, loving, 
intelligent, and therefore a Personal God. If our 
seeing, hearing, and understanding have come 
from Him, He must be one who Himself can see, 
hear, and understand.^ That is an argument 
which appealed to man long before the Scholastics. 
*' He that planteth the ear, shall He not hear ; and 
He that formed the eye, doth He not consider? 
He that chastiseth the nations, shall He not rebuke ; 
He that teacheth men knowledge ?" (Ps. xciii.). 

III. — A rgument from Necessity. 

Another proof is found in the nature of the 
world's existence. We feel there is wide differ- 
ence between the ways in which things are felt to 

1 It would be superficial to discount the force of such an 
argument on the plea of its being anthropomorphism. As 
long as being comes down from cause to effect, it must be 
reasonable and logical to argue upwards from effect to cause, 
and to attribute eminentcr to the cause whatever there is of 
the nature of being in the effect. That is only to assert the 
unity of Nature and the necessary harmony of the logical 
with the ontological, or knowledge with the nature of 
things. There is therefore so far a true anthropomorphism 
which attributes to God all, in the highest way, which is 
good in man. Anthropomorphism becomes false only when 
it departs from this law, and attributes to God not being, or 
what is good and positive, but the limitations, the falling 
short, or negation of being, which is evil or imperfection 
as found in man. 


be true. For instance, it is true that two and 
two make four, and that the angles of a triangle 
equal two right angles. These statements are so 
true, that we know and feel that they never could 
have been otherwise. They are eter- 


nally and immutably and universally ^nd 
true, and a time, place, or condition in Contingent 
which they would not be true is utterly 
unthinkable. Because they are not only true, 
but must be true, they are called necessary truths. 
But there are other statements which as a matter 
of fact are true, but which we feel might have 
happened to be otherwise. For instance, it is 
true that you are reading this page at the present 
moment ; but it might have easily happened that 
this page had never been written, or that you had 
never consented to read it. It is true that London 
is built on the Thames ; but it is true not neces- 
sarily, but just because, as a fact, it happens to be 
so ; because London might have been built else- 
where, or might never have been built at all. 
When things are true, not because they must be 
so, and cannot be otherwise, but because as a 
matter of fact they happen to be true, they are 
called happenings, or contingent truths. The 
distinction is a very plain one, and one which 
cornes home to the common sense of every reason- 
ing mind. We are all familiar with it, when we 


draw the distinction between principles and 

We apply it to the world around us, and ask 
ourselves to which class of truths does the 
universe belong? Clearly, it belongs to the 
happening or contingent class. No one feels for 
a moment that the statement that the universe 
exists, is on a par with the statement that two 
and two make four. The first is quite true, but 
it might have been otherwise. The second is 
necessary, and anything else would be impossible. 
Or, if we wish to push the inquiry farther, we 
may once more call to mind that law by which 
nothing can ever rise above its own composition 
and constitution. Every part, and every group 
of parts of the universe which we see is manifestly 
contingent. There is nothing in physical nature 
which might not have been, and the laws of 
Nature although de facto determined, fixed, and 
uniform, are not immutable like mathematical 
truths, in the sense that it would be impos- 
sible or unthinkable that they should ever have 
been otherwise. If the parts of the universe be 
thus contingent, it is clear that the whole must be 
likewise contingent, for there can be nothing in a 
whole which is not derived from the parts which 
constitute it. But once we know that the 
universe is contingent, we are in face of two 


alternatives. Either the universe was made by 
someone — or, the universe always existed of 
itself. Now if we examine the second, we find 
that it will not hold good. That a necessary 
being should exist of itself and from all time, is 
intelligible. But that a contingent being — as 
we have seen the universe must be — should so 
exist, is incredible. In the first place, a being 
which existed of itself could not help itself from 
existing (since, to prevent itself from existing, it 
would have to exist before it existed — which 
would be absurd). If it cannot help itself from 
existing, and there is nothing else to help it, 
it would be a necessary being, and not a con- 
tingent being, for its non-existence would be an 
impossibility. In the second place, if a universe 
existed from all time, and were still contingent, 
we should have to believe that its existence was 
really nothing more than a mere happening or 
accident. In that case we should either have to 
seek something outside^ of the universe, which 
determined the happening in favour of existence 
rather than the reverse, or we should have to 
leave the happening without any determining 
cause at all, either in itself or elsewhere. But 
that would be literally to ascribe the existence of 

^ If its existence were determined from within, it would 
be self-existent and necessary. 


the whole universe to chance. Such a conclusion 
, would be all that is unreasonable and unscientific. 
Reason asks the why of all existence, and 
tells us that the determinant of existence must 
be either inside the being which exists — in which 
case it is self-existent and necessary, and not 
contingent — or it is outside of it, in which case 
it is contingent and not self-existent or necessary. 
But to believe in existence without a determi- 
nant either within or without would be to refer the 
maximum of being to no reason whatever, and 
to land ourselves in the lowest depth of supersti- 
tion ; for superstition exactly consists in ascribing 
effects to non-existent causes ; and the greater the 
effect so ascribed, the greater the superstition. 
True Science asks the causes of things, and takes 
as its ruling principle that nothing happens by 
chance. If it be unscientific to refer even the 
least part of the universe to chance, how much 
more unscientific would it be to refer the whole ? 

Throughout this argument we have been 
relying upon a fact of rational experience, namely, 
the distinct apprehension of necessary as con- 
trasted with contingent truth. The verdict of 
our reason is that the one is not the other, and 
that the one must be, and cannot but be, while 
the other only is or may be, and might not be. 
There is the whole class of mathematical and 


geometrical truths belonging to the one and the 

whole class of physical and historical truths 

belonging to the other. If the distinction could 

be shown not to exist in the nature of things 

(based on the root-difference between identity 

of being and mere fact, viz., between essence 

and action), but to be due merely to ^ 

^ ' Causation 

mental category, or a groove of the not a 

mind which apprehends, and not to Cental 

anything in the truths apprehended, 

the argument would indeed be subverted. But 
in that case we should have to face the conse- 
quences. One of the plainest facts of mental 
experience — the sense of a necessary truth as 
different from a contingent one — would have 
been proved to be illusory and misleading. Our 
reason, in telling us that a whole set of truths is 
of a kind which must be, would have utterly 
deceived us, and in telling us that their contra- 
dictories were impossible, would have equally 
misled us. Our perception of the principle of 
identity would have been a mental illusion. If 
this were the case, it is difficult to see how we 
could ever afterwards trust to the report of 
experience or to the dictate of reason. All 
physical science is built on experience, and all 
mathematical science on reason, and precisely on 
reason perceiving this very principle of identity. 


If, then, the distinction which is the foundation 
of the argument were impugned, we could only 
feel that all modern science was based upon 
false and unreliable foundations.^ 

I may sum up the statement of this argu- 
ment by saying that our reason, by refusing to 
confuse the things which it feels must be with 
those which are but might not be, has a sense of 
necessity. It thus enables us by demarcation to 
perceive the quality of contingency, or non-aseity 
— in other words, of createdness — which attaches 
to the universe, whether in its constituent parts 
or in its constituted whole. As such a universe 
must have for its existence a determinant which 

^ We cannot explain away the sense of necessary truth 
by holding the theory that it is merely due to an inherited 
tendency to conclude that what we have always seen to be 
must always have been ; — in other words, that our remote 
ancestors found by experience, so much and so often, that 
two and two made four, that their descendants gradually 
lost the power of perceiving that it could be otherwise, 
and thus acquired an inherited sense of necessity. Man 
from the beginning has been face to face to nature, and with 
a multitude of physical facts which have entered quite as 
constantly into his experience. He saw the grass grow, 
and the rivers flow, and the sun rise and set morning and 
evening, and presumably before he had learned to count 
that two and two made four. Yet, after thousands of 
years in perceiving these physical facts, we are not conscious 
of any sense of necessity as we undoubtedly are in dealing 
with necessary truths. 


is not of itself, there must exist outside ^ of it a 
Being self-existent and necessary upon which it 
depends. This Being we call God, '* uphold- 
ing all things by the word of His power." 
(Heb. i. 3). 

IV. — Argument from Perfection. ' 

Another argument for the existence of God 
is based on the varying degrees of perfection in 
which things are found to consist.. The world 
is not only marvellously complex, but the things 
in it differ from one another by being some higher 
and better than others. A plant is higher than 
a stone, a brute is higher than a plant, 
and man is higher than the brute. Moreover, 
qualities of strength, beauty, worth, are possessed 
by some in a higher measure as by others in a 

1 We say '' outside " of it in the sense of being immeasur- 
ably distinct from it. The distance between God and His 
creation is not spatial but ontological. A concept of God 
in His heaven or away above the stars, is simply a very 
natural way of representing the transcendentalism of the 
Necessary Being. It has its due correction in the doctrine 
of His omnipresence. Some who lay stress upon His 
immanence, represent Him as the ''groundwork" upon 
which all phenomena are projected. But obviously the 
concept of God as a groundwork is, if anything, more crude 
than that of a God beyond the stars. And a spatial God 
would be even more unthinkable than a sidereal one, 


lower, and things present themselves in a scale 
of innumerable degrees of perfection. Thus all 
over the face of nature is written conspicuously 
the distinction of higher and lower and more 
and less. But, as higher and lower and more 
or less are plainly relative, there must in the 
nature of things be somewhere a standard in 
relation to which they become higher or better 
as they approximate, and lower or less as they 
become remote. For a relative without an 
absolute is unthinkable. The standard might 
indeed de facto be something having the highest 
degree of perfection actually acquired. As such, 
it would be only contingently absolute ; but the 
real absolute would require to be one outside of 
which there could be no higher degree of perfec- 
tion possible, otherwise it itself would be relative 
and not absolute,.. Hence the more-or-less-ness 
which we see in nature is in its measure an 
indication of the absolute perfection which is 
but another name for God, of whom all relative 
perfection in nature is but the fragmentary shadow, 
measuring its greatness or goodness by its 
approach to Him. 

We may here note that certain writers of the 
Positivist school have insisted very much on the 
relativity of all knowledge. They regard all 
phenomena as so many symbols rather than 


realities ; and as the phenomena of the universe 
are innumerable and complex beyond all calcula- 
tion, they argue that any conclusions or inductions 
founded upon any given set falling under our 
experience can never possess any absolute 
certainty, and can never be said to be true except 
in a sense which is not real but merely relative. 

But if the contention were true, the real 
sufferers would not be the theists, but the 
scientists. It would mean that the xheReia- 
whole work of science was based on tivityof 
unreality ; that its acquired results ^^^"^"^^"^ 
were after all not acquired, but liable to be 
annulled at any time by a change of the rela- 
tivity ; and that men of scientific research were 
at best playing a game of counters, of which 
they themselves cannot even know the value. 
If that were the case, students of science might 
well have some reason for discouragement. On 
the other hand, the theist would feel that the 
more any one insisted that phenomena were 
mere symbols, and that the whole universe was 
a vast complexus of relativity, the more imperative 
would be the need of believing in an ^absolute. 
For relations do not hang in the air, and re- 
lativity without an absolute is inconceivable. 
The Absolute, which includes the reason of all 
reality, would be transcendental, and nothing 


else than the God for whose existence the theist 
is contending ; and the more a Positivist insists 
on the relativity of knowledge and phenomena, 
the more, in fact, he is found to insist on the 
ultimate truth of God's existence. 

V. — Argimient of Design, - A^-^^^^ 

A well-known proof for the existence of God 
is found in/ the fact of all nature bearing the 
impress of design, and this proof when carefully 
considered is felt to be more profound than at 
first sight it might seem to be. 

It is undeniable that in nature we find the 
twofold feature — symmetry and construction. 
In plants and in crystals are to be found 
geometrical forms of marvellous symmetry. 
But much more wonderful is the fact that in 
nature there is not only structure, but construc- 
tion, viz., the adjustment of part to part with a 
view to the fulfilling of a given purpose. No 
machine which has issued from the inventive 
genius of man — the printing-press, the telegraph, 
the phonograph — can compare in mechanical 
adaptation to the solar system, or the organism 
of a plant or an insect. Man's machines are 
cumbrous at the best, as they are fitted together 
from the outside. Nature's machines are ex- 


quisite, because they are fitted together from the 
inside and by the forces which permeate them. 
How far do such facts as symmetry or adaptation 
of parts imply the action of an intelligent cause ? 
y The mere fact of symmetrical forms in nature 
might be traced to the uniform action of certain 
forces. And even adaptation of part to part 
might within certain limits be explained 
by the tendency of matter to adapt Adapution 
itself to the action of forces which 
shape it in the way best suited to the flow 
of their energy^. If I see a round stick fitted 
exactly into a'^ round hole in a hard substance, 
I may say that some intelligent artisan must 
have made the one to suit the other. But if 
a piece of wood were pressed by some con- 
tinuous force against the round hole for a 
sufficiently long time, the mere pressure would 
make the stick to fit the hole, and we should 
have a case, not of design, but of force-adaptation. 
Why the matter of the wood suited the shaping 
pressure of the force, and why the wood and the 
force were there at all, working together, would 
still remain to be explained. If the result were 
not a mere round stick fitted to a round hole, 
but a wonderful and complex organism functioning 
by a co-ordination of manifold parts for a definite 
purpose, we should feel that the fact of mere 


force-adaptation would not go very far to account 
for the construction. Force is one thing, but the 
purpose or purposive action which characterises 
force is another. It is the latter which is so 
plain in nature, and which cries out for an 
explanation. Herein is the ulterior strength of 
Example ^^^ Argument of Design. I see a 
of Design— heron wading in the shallows, fishing 

Arg^ument f^^ j^.^ p^.^^^ j^^ j ^^i-^h it at its WOrk, 

I may observe that it presents all the evidences 
of having been designed by an intelligent 
Creator. There is the long beak, so admirably 
fitted to reach down far into the water for the 
food ;it seeks ; the supple neck, which allows it 
to deliver the stroke with unerring precision ; 
the long legs, enabling it to wade far out into the 
water where its food may be found. I might 
conclude that surely an intelligent Creator had 
given it such a beak, neck, and legs, precisely 
with the design that it should be able to live and 
to find its sustenance. But here I may stand 
corrected. A naturalist may point out to me 
that the bird has a history, and that it was not 
always shaped as I now see it. He 
Evolutionist ^ proceed to tell me what he believes 

Explanation ^ ^ 

to be the tale of its evolution. It was 
once very much like other birds. To begin with, 
its material organism was more or less plastic. 


and likely to be shaped by internal and external 
conditions. Then energy flows more fully into 
a member the more it is used, and the member 
is thus developed in size and strength. The 
bird, obliged to use its legs in walking and 
wading after its prey, and its beak in seizing 
it, gradually strengthened these members rather 
than others. Moreover, it would, by the law 
of heredity, transmit these characteristics to its 
offspring. The farther it would have to wade 
out into the water for a supply of food, the 
better chance its long legs and strong beak 
would give it of finding what it wanted. Those 
of its offspring which had the longest legs and 
strongest beaks would have more plentiful food, 
and would be the more likely to survive, to be 
strong and vigorous, and to have numerous pro- 
geny. Those which had not these advantages 
would be handicapped in the struggle for exist- 
ence, and would become weak, would die out, 
and fail to have offspring. Thus by the mere 
self-shaping process of energy moulding the 
organism from within, and environment mould- 
ing it from without, and weeding out the unfitted, 
we may come to have the heron very much as 
we now find it. All that is but a very crude out- 
line of the working of a theory with which we 
all are familiar. 


V OF >/ 


Let us, then, for the moment accept the theory, 
and examine the process. There is at the very 
beginning a law of nutrition or self- 
Explanation preservation, by which the animal 
Enforces seeks to sustain the life within it by 
Argument ^^^ quest of food which is outside of 
it. That is law number one. Then 
there is the law of plasticity of organism, by 
which its members can be moulded more or less 
by inward forces or outward environment. That 
is law number two. There is the law of invigora- 
tion, which sends most of the vital energy into a 
member that is most used, and least into that 
which is least used, so that the one becomes 
strengthened and developed, while the other 
becomes weakened or atrophied. That is law 
number three. There is the law of heredity, 
which transmits to the offspring even in a 
pronounced degree the character thus given to 
the organism of the parents. That is law number 
four. There is the law of survival of the fittest, 
which enables those who are adapted to the food- 
finding and environment to live and thrive and 
multiply, and weeds out and cuts off the succes- 
sion of those who are not. That is law number 
five. We have thus five laws, each with its own 
specific drift and operation ; laws which we may 
roughly name food-quest, member - moulding. 


energy-flow, heredity, and elimination of the 
weakest. And these five laws are not at all 
separate, isolated, or independent. On the contrary, 
they are adjusted so as to fit into one another, 
all moving together by a marvellous interadapta- 
tion and interaction to achieve one definite pur- 
pose — the production of a well-developed heron. 
Now that in itself — this mechanism of 

jV/r Ck r* n 3 n 1 ^m 

laws — is a combination far more won- ©f Parts 
derful, more eloquent in its need of a and 
constructive intelligence, than any ^^^l^^^"* 
machine which has ever come under 
our observation. If I had under my hands a 
machine consisting of five main parts, which when 
put together worked harmoniously to effect a 
given object, I might admire indeed the skill of 
the inventor. But if I have before my eyes a 
construction in which it is no longer five dead 
parts, but five active laws of nature that are 
so deftly handled, interwoven, and combined, 
that by their interplay they are perpetually 
turning out a multitude of living types, with 
the ages for their working-day and the uni- 
verse for their workshop, I may justly feel 
that here indeed is Design in the most telling 
and sublime sense of the word. Any mere 
adjustment of parts can never equal in ingenuity 
and skill that adjustment of laws which must 


ever be a higher and subtler form of mechanism. 
If an ordinary machine requires an intelligent 
constructor to adapt its parts and fit them 
together, how much more this higher mechanism 
of laws cries out for the need of an intelligent 
Maker to set them in motion, to combine their 
action, to direct their operation to the definite 
purpose for which we see them so wonderfully 
working. The earthly mechanic plods with his 
material, which he shapes in such a way that the 
laws of nature may help him to achieve his object. 
The laws themselves are beyond his control, and 
he can only apply them. But the Mechanic who 
can handle the laws themselves and fit them to 
work together, even as the earthly mechanic fits 
his wheels and levers, must transcend in power 
and intelligence all human genius. 
X The argument of Design is not impaired, but 
rather strengthened and enhanced, by all that the 
naturalist can tell us of evolution. It means that 
the universe is a vast and complex mechanism, 
and that, not only for the marvellous adjustment 
of its parts, but above all, for the still more 
marvellous adjustment of its laws, it requires 
an Intelligent Adjuster. 

Ad'ustment '^^^ need is one which we may see 

and Pre- more clearly when we reflect on the 

conception connection that exists between con- 


struction and preconception. For things have to 
exist mentally before they exist really, whenever 
they have to be put into any kind of order. 

Let us suppose that we have before us a 
mechanism of a given number of pieces. It is 
clear that we have not merely these pieces, but a 
special quality attaching to each, by which they 
fit into one another in order to work for a definite 
object. It is equally clear that the pieces have 
received this quality, their special make and shape, 
in view of the object to be attained. That implies 
that they must have been seen and adjusted 
before they were actually made, else there is no 
guiding principle on which the adjustment could 
have been directed. The only medium in which 
things can be seen or shaped before they come 
into real existence, is an intelligent mind. It 
alone can foresee the object and mentally picture 
the pieces and their adjustment, and thus give to 
them the shape which is required for the purpose 
in view. 

If it were otherwise, we should have to 
suppose that the pieces shaped themselves by 
some blind and unconscious tendency inherent in 
themselves ; and what is stranger still, that while 
the tendency was thus blind and unconscious, and 
able neither to see nor know what it was aiming 
at, it achieved its purpose with unerring precision 


and unrivalled success. Such a reason would be 

worse than none. We feel that such a belief 

would be degrading, for it attributes all that is 

highest and best in the universe to a cause which 

is blind and ignorant.^ It would be futile to veil 

the real meaning of the belief by using such terms 

as *' Nature" or '* Laws of Nature," as if these 

were personifications. Nature in so far as it acts, 

means certain forces, and laws of nature mean 

nothing more than the uniform mode in which the 

forces act. While these forces are non-intelligent 

they can neither see, nor know, nor understand, 

and therefore no amount of rhetoric would ever 

conceal the poverty and hopeless inadequacy of 

the position by which a blind and ignorant force 

is made to stand as the reason of the construction 

of plants and of planets, and of achievements in 

ingenuity and contriving skill immeasurably 

transcending all the wisdom and most brilliant 

genius of mankind. To say that a magnificent 

mechanism like the universe had no other author 

than an unconscious force, is not to give to a 

reason, but rather in despite of all reason, to 

impute wonders of foresight to that which sees 

^ To say that intelligence was latent in the original 
forces, and afterwards developed, would not in the least help 
in the solution. For it was not the developed intelligence 
as we see it in man that shaped the universe, and the intelli- 
gence in its latent forces could not see or understand. 


not, and wonders of contrivance to that which 
knows not. To accept such a contradiction 
requires more credulity than most men are found 
to possess. As an explanation of the universe, it 
not only fails to explain, but gives us instead a 
genesis of the greater out of the less, and of things 
out of their contradictories, which is in itself 
something far more difficult than the original 
problem. As a creed, it seems to be in reality 
something harder to believe than any of the 
dogmas of revealed religion. 

As we cannot accept this blindfolded know- 
nothing wonder-worker called Force as the 
contriver of the glorious mechanism of the 
universe, we conclude that just because it is a 
mechanism it must have had an intelligent 
Maker. For construction and adjustment of 
parts by their nature imply preconception in 
a thinking mind, and preconception implies 

To construct something is something more 
than to know something. If it is certain that 
it requires intelligence, and a high degree of it, to 
know the solar system, or the organism of a plant 
or an insect, much more must intelligence have 
been needed to produce it and to give know- 
ledge so much to work upon. What mind 
alone can study, mind alone can have 


constructed to be studied. Men of science, 
astronomers and physicists, by the very measure 
of their genius, which we gratefully admire, are 
themselves the best refutation of the conclusions 
of some amongst their number, who ascribe the 
existence of the world to a cause immeasurably 
less intelligent than themselves. Hence we have 
to choose between belief in an Intelligent Creator 
— the most simple and rational solution, and the 
one most in harmony with the workings of our 
own intelligent nature — or to descend to the 
bathos of putting at the origin and in supreme 
control of all things a force which can neither see, 
nor hear, or understand — an alternative which, as 
we have said, seems to us the apotheosis of 
blindness and ignorance./ That which is at the 
beginning of all things, and which contains the 
reason of all things, is God, by whatever name we 
may choose to call it. If we are to have a God 
— and by the force of the definition we must have 
one — it is neither good nor reasonable, nor in 
keeping with our nature or with His handiwork, 
that we should have a blind one. 

VL — Argument from Law or Conscience. 

The argument which is sought in the nature 
of Law, in the deeper sense of the word, may be 


stated as follows. Our reason tells us that certain 
things are true or false. Our conscience — which 
is our reason in a certain aspect — tells us that 
certain things are right or wrong. Moreover we 
feel that this distinction is not arbitrary or 
conventional, but is rooted in the nature of things, 
and is therefore a law in the fundamental sense of 
the term. We know, for instance, not only that 
it is true that two and two make four, but that it 
is true in all times, in all conditions, and in all 
places, just as the statement that two and two 
make five would be false in the same manner. 
There is thus a law of truth as against falsehood, 
which is universal and everlasting. It is likewise 
immutable, and absolutely independent of man s 
consent. If all the nations of the world agreed 
to-morrow in a resolution by unanimous consent 
that in future two and two should make five, or 
anything else than four, we know that two and 
two would continue to make four just as it did 
from all time, and as it will do for all eternity. 
In like manner, there is a law of right as against 
wrong, which in its ultimate principle is immutable, 
eternal, and independent of human consent. An 
ethical flaw, like a mathematical one, is a violation 
of a principle which is in the nature of things above 
and beyond all human control or adaptation. If, 
then, there is thus written in our rational nature 


y a law of Truth and Falsehood, and a law of 

Right and Wrong — laws which are not of our 

The Law ^^^^ing — there must be a Lawgiver 

and the who made them, and the Lawgiver 

awgiver j^^^^ j^^ |jj^g j^jg j^^^^ necessary, 

eternal, and immutable. /For law, above all things 
— even in its political sense, but much more in 
its natural sense — is the highest expression of 
order and purpose, and therefore of intelligence. 
/ There can be no law without a Lawgiver, and 
the Lawgiver must Himself be intelligent, if 
His law appeals to our intelligence. 

It is sometimes said that our conscience is 
the revealer of God, and that it is God's voice 
-r^i. T^- . . within us. That is true in the sense 

The Dictate 

of that conscience is the name which we 
Conscience ^^j^g ^^ q^j. reason when applied to 

nota ^ r . 1 1 ic 

Revealer matters of right and wrong (for con- 
^"^a science is not a distinct faculty from 

Resultant of i . n in* 

Perception ^^^ intellect, and all its perceptions, in 
of God's so far as it perceives at all, cannot be 
xis enc Q^i^gj. ^j^^j^ intellectual), and in so far 
as it is the voice of our reasonable nature which 
God has given us, it is the voice of God. But 
it is strictly the revealer, not directly of God, 
but of the ** ought," or the duties which we owe 
to God. Naturally there would be no ''ought'* 
or duty at all, unless there was a righteous- 


ness or God at the end of it. But the per- 
ception of righteousness — or of God, who is 
concrete righteousness — is the work of reason ; 
and when reason sees it, and, consequently, the 
practical *' ought" or ** ought not" which arises 
therefrom, we call it conscience. God or 
righteousness in some shape has first of all to 
be reached by reason before reason, which we call 
conscience, can dictate its practical judgement. 
Conscience thus postulates God or goodness 
rather than reveals them. Hence the revealer of 
God in the natural order is the light of reason, as 
the Vatican Council most opportunely declared. 
Reason may apprehend the existence of God in 
two ways — either by looking back to Him as the 
First Cause, or looking forward to Him as the 
Last End. The one tells us that we were made 
by Him, the other tells that us we were made 
for Him. It is out of this second or final percep- 
tion — viz., that we are made for goodness, or for 
God as our End — that comes the judgement of 
reason of what is or is not in harmony with our 
reaching it — God's pleasure or displeasure as we 
call it — and the sense of sin or justice with the 
practical ''ought" or dictate which we name 

The distinction has its importance in the fact 
that the practical judgement of conscience takes 


its direction from a speculative judgement of reason 
which precedes it. And because reason, while 
infallible in its first principles, is not so in its 
deductions, we have the case of what is known 
as false conscience. A man may be heard to 
say that he cannot conscientiously believe in 
transubstantiation. But it is not in the least 
his conscience which judges of the doctrine. His 
conscience cannot tell him whether transub- 
stantiation is true, any more than it can tell him 
whether Free Trade or Protection is the better 
policy. He exercises on that matter his individual 
reason — his private judgement — to see whether it 
is true or not, and his reason in formulating 
conclusions has to depend on the apprehension 
of facts, which may or may not be adequate, and 
as a result he may or may not arrive at an 
accurate decision. Having arrived at the con- 
clusion that transubstantiation is not true, his 
conscience proceeds to make its practical dictate, 
namely, that he ought not to believe or profess a 
doctrine which he judges to be untrue. This 
latter part is alone the voice of conscience, and 
that voice remains always true and must always 
be followed. But the conclusion to which he 
applies it, namely, that the doctrine of tran- 
substantiation is untrue, is not at all the voice 
of conscience, but that of his own fallible 


private judgement. The sense of right and 
wrong — of the duty of doing what God wills, 
or what is Godward or right, and of avoiding 
what God forbids, or what is ungodward or 
wrong, is not so much the cause as the resultant, 
and not so much the premiss as the conclusion of 
the reason perceiving that God is, and that certain 
actions make for or make against Him. The 
light of reason, in its true domain and in its 
primary principles, whether turned backward to 
God as our First Beginning in the revelation of 
our origin, or forward to God as our Last End 
in the revelation of our duty, remains the true 
Schekinah of the presence of God — the Alpha 
and Omega within us. 

VII, — Ontological Argument, 

The ontological proofs for the existence of 
God are generally felt to be somewhat abstruse 
and profound, but by the minds to which they 
appeal — Hegel's amongst others — they have been 
found in the long-run to be the most convincing 
and the most satisfactory. The one which I 
indicate here is not the well-known argument of 
St Anselm, but rather a line of thought which 
may serve at least to make more clear the unity 
and necessity of transcendental being, and of 


the logical connection which exists between the 
concept of being and the attributes of God. 

We have already seen in dealing with the 
proof which is drawn from perfection, that our 
reason recognises a clear distinction between neces- 
sary and contingent truths — for instance, between 
such a truth as two and two makinof four, and 
the truth that William of Normandy invaded 
this country. The one is and must be, and could 
not be otherwise. The other is and may be, but 
might have been otherwise./ With this 
The Idea distinction before us, we turn our minds 

01 seing^ 

to what we feel to be the most funda- 
mental of all concepts — that of being. Because 
it is the bed-rock of thought, we cannot define 
it, and can only explain it by saying that Being 
is that which is. Its opposite is the Nothing or 
nihihim, that which is not.^ 

If we reflect upon the meaning of these two 
terms, we shall feel that the Nothing or the 
nihilum could not exist. It would contradict 
itself if it did. A state of absolute nothingness 
is impossible. As it has been truly said, if 
nothingness had existed even for an instant, 
nothing could ever have existed afterwards. If, 
then, the nothing never could have existed, there 
must be something which always existed. And this 
something, whatever it may be, must always have 


been, or else the nothing would have been, which 
is impossible. Hence there is a sense in which 
being is necessary ; for to say that something 
must be, or cannot but have been, is to say in 
other words that it is a necessary being. 

Here we have to guard against any mere 
play upon words. It might be said that what 
we have found by our reflection is the truth, that 
something or other must always have been, but 
not that the being itself is a 'necessary one ; or, 
to put it otherwise, it is the truth that is neces- 
sary, not the being. 

But if we reflect still further we shall find 
that after all the one implies the other. 

For we know that since nothingness never 
could have been, something (we do not say what) 
always must have been in existence. If that 
something had the reason of its existence in 
itself — in other words, if it were self-existent — it 
would certainly be a necessary being, for by its very 
condition, its essence and existence would be the 
same, and it could not help existing. On the other 
hand, if the something which always existed had 
not the reason of its existence in itself, it must have 
had it in something else which had. Then this 
something else would be the self-existent and 
necessary being. Thus in any case, if the 
nothingness be excluded, as it must be, we can- 


not escape from the admission of a necessary 

Here it might be said that the necessary 
being which we have found is nothing 

Analysis of i i • • 11 

Attributes ^^^^ ^han bemg m general, or let us 
say, to put it concretely, the Universe. 
Whether that is so or not, we may try to find 
out by an analysis. 

Let us call the being which we have been 
considering X. It includes simply that being 
which is necessitated by the inevitable exclusion 
of the nothingness. 

1. We have seen that X must be, or the 
nothingness would be, and therefore X is a 
necessary being. 

2. But as the nothingness not only cannot be, 
but never could have been, and never can be, 
it is clear that X not only must be, but must 
always have been, and must always be. X 
therefore is a being which has no beginning, and 
no end — which ever was, is, and ever shall be. 
In other words, it is eternal. 

3. As the very meaning of X is that it is 
being which is logically forced upon us by the 
fact that nothingness could not exist, and as it 
is thus logically born by the exclusion of nothing- 
ness, it follows that it must contain all that is 
outside of nothingness, and that nothingness is 


the only limit of its being. That is only to say 
that it contains the fulness of being, that its 
being is limitless, or Infinite. Since outside of it 
nothing can ever be, it contains the **all that is 
or ever can be," which is exactly the definition of 
the Infinite being. 

4. As X is infinite, it is evidently one. By 
its very meaning, outside of it is nothingness, and 
therefore no other necessary being but it can 
exist. It has that outside oneness which means 
no other than one, or extrinsic unity. 

5. As X is infinite, it is also simple or devoid 
of parts ; that is, it has also inside oneness, or 
intrinsic unity. If X were composite, and so had 
parts, the parts would by the very fact have a 
number, and that number, at least in thought, 
could be added to. A greater than X could 
therefore be conceived and therefore possible, and 
X would not be infinite, and it would not be, as 
we have seen, the being ** outside of which 
nothing can be." X is, therefore, simple by the 
fact of being infinite. 

6. We have already seen that X is eternal ; 
that as a being which must be, it must always 
have been, is, and must always be. Its duration 
is Infinite or eternal. There is no conceivable 
instant in which it was not (or in that time the 
nothingness would have been). But infinite or 



eternal duration has no parts. If it had any- 
such parts, their number could be added to, and 
it could be conceived as greater than it is. 
Hence X's existence is not one of successive 
time, but of eternity. As a necessary and 
eternal being it has not to wait until to-morrow 
for a part of its existence. Its being is the eternal 
now, without instants of succession in the past 
or future. Hence X is immutable, for change 
implies time, or succession of states or instants, 
since not even a Necessary and Infinite being 
can be and not be something at the same 

Thus, from the concept of being, and by 
the contrast and inevitable exclusion of nothing- 
ness or the nihilum, there seems to be reasonably 
evolved before our minds a Being which is 
necessary, or self-existent. Eternal, Infinite, 
One Simple and Immutable. That Being 
certainly cannot be the universe around us, which 
has time, and change, and composition, and 
finiteness written so plainly all over its constitution. 
It is all that the universe is not, and the universe 
is all that it is not. And we may note that if 
anything were wanted to emphasise the abyssmal 
difference between them, and to prove that the 
universe cannot be the self-existent being 
which our reason demands, it would surely be 


the doctrine of evolution. By its very concept, 
evolution postulates and insists upon limitation, 
number, succession, change ; all of which are 
loud-voiced in declaring that the universe which 
they stamp cannot be the one which is Infinite, 
One Simple, Immutable, and Eternal, as the 
Being which is necessary must be. 

It may be urged that in following this line of 
thought we merely allow ourselves to become the 
sport of our own dialectics, and that at the outset 
we have begged our conclusions in the formula- 
tion of our definitions, and that when we started 
with a being, which is logically alone with the 
nihilum, we practically secured all that we wanted, 
and the rest of the process has been mere thought- 
spinning and word-juggling, without adding any 
fresh truth to our original postulate. 

But after all, we may feel it is not a very great 
logical sin to have at the end of our reasoning 
nothing in our conclusions which was not con- 
tained in, and did not come out of, our original 
premisses. Were it otherwise, we might have 
some cause for misgiving. And as to the pre- 
misses, or definitions of being and nothingness, if 
they can be called definitions, it would be futile to 
imagine that they can be treated as arbitrary 
assumptions, since they are concepts which lie at 
the root of all reality, and appeal as such to the 


common sense of mankind. They are not cer- 
tainly of our making, but are founded in the 
nature of things. 

A more serious objection, albeit one which is 
never likely to have much grip on men of vigor- 
ous common sense, is that all such reasoning 
may hold good in the realm of mind, but there is 
no bridge between the ideal and the real, and 
therefore no means of being certain that any 
reality corresponds to our reasoning. 

The plain answer to this contention, and to 

the systems of philosophy which lie behind it, must 

ever be that if knowledge is to be knowledge at all 

it must be knowledge by means of our minds, and 

that the first postulate of all knowledge 

^ ^ must be that our minds are valid and 


Postulate of veracious instruments for reaching the 

all Know- realities that lie outside of us. If they 

are not, we close the only door to know- 
ledge of any kind, for we have no other instru- 
ments with which we can work, and if they are 
unreliable, their report as to our thoughts, quite 
as much as to things outside of us, would not 
be worth consideration. No man can jump out 
of his subjectivity in order to verify his im- 
pressions as to exterior realities, nor would it 
in the least serve his purpose even if he could, 
seeing that he would have left behind him his 


mental apparatus, by which alone he could carry 
out the verification. Any system of episte- 
mology which enters on a critique not merely of 
the mental process, but of the mental instrument 
itself, must be self-refuted, since it uses the very 
instrument which it criticises in order to make the 
criticism, and it is not easy to see how the criticism 
can ever be more trustworthy than the instrument 
which the critic has used to make it. 

But in truth, as our minds are the only instru- 
ments by which we can know realities, whether 
inside or outside of us, we must be content to 
postulate their validity, or to know nothing, and 
condemn ourselves to a state of scepticism and 
ignorance. Men of common sense refuse to blow 
out the light and sit in the dark just because there 
is no absolute proof of the veracity of their eye- 

To those that have once reached the truth of 
the Necessary Being, there is no need to say that 
in It they have found the bridre be- ^, 

1 . . . . The bridge 

tween their minds and exterior realities, between the 
Our minds are by their very nature Zealand 
active images of the Divine mind. 
That is why they are intelligent. Things outside 
of us are also by their very nature passive images 
of the Divine Reality. That is why they are 
intelligible. The minds that think and the things 


that are thought about are both analogues of the 
Divine Absolute, and things which are analogical 
to the same thing are analogical to one another. 
Thus between minds and objects there is an 
analogical bond which is necessary and onto- 
logical, and as such sure and veracious, and this 
is the bridge which He who is at once the Divine 
Ideality and Reality has built between the two. 

It is precisely this bond or bridge which in a 
special way enforces the argument of Design. 
There is no mechanism — not even that of the 
solar system — which can be compared to that of 
the human mind as an instrument of thought. 
In an ordinary machine we admire the adjustment 
of part to part. Higher still is that marvellous 
adaptation in nature by which law is adjusted to 
law. But highest of all and most marvellous of 
all in the mechanism of the Universe is that 
ineffable adaptation which has been wrought 
between the minds that are ever thinking and 
their objects that are ever thought upon — 
between the mentalities and the realities — between 
the intelligences and the intelligibilities — between 
thoughts and things — so that as often as we 
observe, things are projected into thought, and as 
often as we construct, thoughts are projected into 
things, and the two worlds of mind and matter are 
fprever clasped and interwoven in the union of the 


Knowing and the Known. It is this adjustment 
of thoughts and things which is the dtsign par 
excellence^ and more eloquently than all others 
it demands the need of an Adjuster, and one who 
in Himself is Mind and Reality, and of whom all 
Intelligence and Intelligibility wedded here below 
are but the reflect and the Hkeness. It is in His 
absolute and transcendental Unity, containing 
the reason of all things — and not in our poor 
fragmentary universe of things here below — that 
we find the term of the true Monism with which 
our unity-loving souls crave to finish up the syn- 
thesis of all that we are and all that we know. 
He is the Eternal Monos. **/ am the First, and 
I am the Last, and besides Me there is no God'' 
(Isaias xliv. 6). 

VIII. — j^sthetic Argument, 

One of the most palpable facts of human 
experience is that there are things which are 
beautiful, and that it gives joy to behold them. 
It may be a majestic landscape, or a master- 
piece of painting or sculpture or of musical 
composition, but we feel that in such things 
there is beauty, and that it elevates us, and 
gladdens us, and draws our souls towards it. 
Let u$ ask the reason why. If we analyse the 


idea of beauty, it is evident that it is the combina- 
tion of two things — Unity and Variety. If for 
variety, we were to say wealth of being, or wealth 
of formal entity, we should express our meaning 
more fully and more precisely. The most beautiful 
being is that in which the greatest variety, viz., 
the greatest amount of being (not mere quanti- 
tative but qualitative or formal being) is held 
together or co-ordinated in the closest degree of 
unity. Here we can see at once why beautiful 
things give joy. If an amount of being were 
altogether devoid of unity, it would be chaos, 
and beyond the reach of our minds. It would 
be intangible or unintelligible. It is just by the 
unity which is in a thing that it is mentally 
get-at-able. The mind itself is an active unity — 
active with the highest kind of activity which is 
life, and the highest kind of life, which is intelli- 
gence. Intelligence is living unity with the 
power of reading unity, and all things by their 
unity. We try to express all that by the single 
word spirit. Because it is living unity it has a 
mysterious way of getting into things by means 
of their unity, and by a vital act seeing them in 
itself, and that is the process which we call 
knowing or understanding. It follows that the 
more unity there is in a thing, the more clearly 
and readily the mind understands it. It is by 


unifications, or general ideas — grasps of unity — 
that we gain our knowledge, sometimes chaining 
the unities as when we syllogise, or at other 
times simply contemplating their oneness by an 
act of intuition. In like manner, when an object 
which is beautiful comes before us, we apprehend 
it and get it into our souls by means of its unity, 
and the greater the measure of its unity, the 
clearer will be the apprehension. The greater 
the variety or wealth of being which is brought 
under the unity, the greater will be the soul- 
grasp, and consequently the greater the joy of 
the soul. For the two things which the soul 
loves and feeds upon are Unity and Being — or 
I ought rather to say. Being through Unity. 
It itself is Spirit or Unity-Being, and it delights 
in finding that which is the likeness of itself. 
It is, so to speak, a glimpse of its own beauty. 
The more intense the unity, and the more there 
is of variety, or muchness of being, the greater 
its delight becomes. Hence beauty gives joy 
owing to its very kinship to the soul. The 
unity, or self-compatibility which is inherent in 
things by which we understand them, or by 
which they are thinkable, is their ** thinkable 
quality," or species intelligibilisy and it is by it 
that we grasp or enter into them and feel all the 
joy of the beautiful and the true, 


There is thus a very close connection between 
intelligence and the appreciation of the beautiful 
If I place a beautiful masterpiece of some great 
painter before a dog, little notice will paid to it. 
If I place it before a savage, endowed with an 
intelligence, lacking in cultivation perhaps, but 
therefore radically differing from the brute, the 
painting may be admired, but possibly not so 
much as the gilt frame. The aesthetic power to 
admire is there, but it may not be evoked by the 
painting in question. If I put it before a person 
who is not indeed a savage, but is ignorant or 
uncultivated, he may find pleasure in the work of 
art, but possibly not so much as in some brightly 
coloured print which would appeal more to 
unformed taste. If I put it before some one of 
high intelligence and artistic culture, the beauty 
of the painting will be felt and appreciated. 
Thus the conception of beauty, once found in 
human intelligence, is seen to transcend the 
sensible apprehension of the mere brute, and at 
the same time to be more recognised and relished 
the higher we ascend in the scale of cultured and 
refined mind. If upon a desert island I pick up 
a scrap of paper upon which a few words are 
written, I know that some intelligent being must 
have been the writer. Why ? Because, if it is 
only by intelligence that I can read the words, 


much more must it be only by intelligence that 
the words can have been written for me to read 
them. The writing, in fact, is the appeal which 
one intelligence makes to another. If, then, 
beauty is stamped so clearly, so widely, so 
magnificently upon the universe, and if it speaks 
so intensely to the depths of the human soul, it 
is evident that even as intelligence is needed to 
appreciate it, so intelligence must have been 
needed to put it there to be appreciated. In other 
words, if beauty be a handwriting upon the open 
page of the universe, which only intelligence can 
read, it must also be one which only intelligence 
can have written. All beauty is the appeal to 
our intelligence from the Supreme Intelligence 
— the Infinite whose oneness is the source of all 
unity, whether thinking or thinkable, and whose 
fulness of being is the source of all wealth of 
variety. It is the shadow of the Infinite beauty 
cast upon creation, and the only reason why 
one thing is more beautiful than another is 
because it has more of the joy-giving likeness of 

In the foregoing arguments I have attempted 
to sketch, at least in bald outline, some of the 
reasons which help to convince us of the existence 
of God. But happily, God, like light, is His 
own revealer, and He, both by the light of 


reason and the light of His own life, which we 

call grace, writes His witness vitally in the soul 

of man. That testimony, just because 

Spiritual j^ jg yji-^j IS more than can be put 

Experience , ^ ^ 

into words, or formulated in the set 
terms of an argument. Also, because it is 
vital, and supernaturally vital, it will require 
not mere intellectual capacity, but qualities of 
heart which are in harmony with God, to receive 
it. No doubt, men will always feel about their 
Maker more than they can easily utter, but as 
in the case of the crystal and the sunlight, it is 
inevitable that how much or how little they may 
feel will depend upon the state of the soul, and 
its spiritual eyesight or power to assimilate 
the light will be in the measure of its moral 
nearness to the light and to the Light-giver. 

In the trend of modern thought much value 
is rightly attached to the evidential value of 
experience. It is upon experience that modern 
science takes its stand, and carries from triumph 
to triumph the magnificent work which it 
accomplishes for the well-being of mankind. 
But physical experience is naturally limited to 
physical phenomena, and modern science does 
its work wearing spectacles, which by their very 
nature cannot carry beyond secondary causes. 
To all the experience of sense-perception, the 


First Cause must remain invisible and inaccessible. 
God cannot be caught in the tests of the 
laboratory any more than He can be formulated 
on the blackboard. And that not because He 
is not, but precisely because He is, and is what 
He is and must be. A God that could be so 
detected by sense, or compressed into a finite 
formula, would be within measurable distance of 
us, and upon the upper end of the same intellectual 
plane as ourselves — He would certainly not be the 
First Cause, would not be the Necessary Being, 
would not be transcendental — all of which are 
but so many ways of saying that He would not 
be God at all. When, therefore, certain men of 
science tell us that in all their chemical or 
biological researches they have failed to find 
the faintest trace of a Supreme Being, we can 
only say that no one in possession of their senses 
ever imagined that they would or could, and that 
their testimony can only be welcome to us as 
their contribution, helping us in their way, to 
prove the transcendentalism, or what Scripture 
calls the invisibility of the King of the Ages 
— a quality which we feel to be one of the most 
necessary in the elements which enter into the 
concept of God. 

Life, however, is broader than the laboratory 
or the blackboard, and it would be surely a poor 


and narrow view of experience to limit it to one 
or the other. We have all in our own hearts a 
higher and wider theatre of experience. We 
have there, written in the life-record, all that 
we have felt of God working within us, of all 
God's dealing with us, of all that God has done 
for us in the great crises of our life, in hours of 
trial, temptation, sorrow, or of happiness, in the 
shade and shine of the years through which we 
have passed. We feel, more profoundly than words 
could utter, all that He has been to us, and all that 
we have been to Him. If experience be the best 
foundation of our knowledge, such life-experience 
written in the depths of our souls is to us the 
highest form of experience, and certainly one 
more telling, more intimate, and more secure 
than any which is likely to be found within the 
walls of the laboratory. If it were but the 
experience of a single soul, its evidence to that 
soul would be all-sufficient. But what we feel 
is felt not less intensely by millions of human 
hearts around us ; has been felt by millions from 
generation to generation in the inner — and what, 
after all, is the more real — history of mankind. 
With this volume of testimony, soul-deep and 
world-wide, within us and around us, we can 
rest secure in the consciousness of our God, and 
read in Him the glad meaning of our lives here. 


and the glorious meaning of our lives hereafter, 
when the eyes, from which have been wiped away 
all earthly tears, shall ''see the good things of the 
Lord in the land of the living'' (Ps. xxvi* 13). 



St Thomas Aquinas. — Siimma Theologies* 

Summa Contra Gentiles, 
Bernard Boedder. — Theologia Rationalts, 
Stonyhurst Manuals. — Natural Theology, 

First Principles, 
L. von Hammerstein. — Foundations of Faith, 
R. Clarke. — Dialogue on the Existence of God, 
S. Reinstadler. — Elementa Philosophice Scholasticce. 
Benedict Lorenzelli. — Philosophice Theoreticce Institutiones, 
Cardinal Manning. — Religio Viatoris, 
Professor Flint. — Theism; Anti-Theistic Theories, 
Professor Caldecott. — The Philosophy of Religion, 
Rev. C. Harris.— Pro Fide, 








This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 
on the date to which renewed. 

lenewed.boQks aj 


are subject to immediate recall. 


APR 2l 186S 




2J m'fi4M0 


JUL l '64- 9 .AM 

LD 21A-50m-8,'57 

General Library 

University of California 


^B 230Cc^